An Employer’s Guide to Resume Review

Kylie Cimmino
March 4, 2021

Resumes are the first opportunity you have as an employer to get to know potential candidates.  When you begin the recruiting process you type up a job description, identify your needs as an organization, what qualifications and skills are important for the specific role, and then post it for interested individuals to apply.  The job market is full of skilled and eager people looking for employment, but what makes one stand out from the rest?  How do you find the best fit from the pile of resumes you must sort through?  If you follow a well thought out process like what we have listed below, you should be able to handle resume review efficiently and find the right hire for your organization.

Scan for a First Impression

Reviewing a resume takes time, now add in the volume of resumes you will have to go through, the amount of time spent adds up quickly.  This is why we recommend you first scan the resume and get your first impression.  First check to see if the resume is well organized and contains the important information you expect to find.  Next you will have identified some qualifications and skills while writing the job posting that are one hundred percent necessary for the candidate to have, look for those.  The candidates might need to have completed a certain level of education or have a specific degree.  Maybe there are years of experience required.  You can easily understand if a person meets the job requirements by scanning their resume.  Identify your first impression of who this candidate is and if they meet the needs of the job.  

Review the Details

The devil is in the details, or so the old saying goes.  A quick scan helps identify candidates that are immediately out of the running, but by having an attention to detail when reviewing a job seeker’s resume and cover letter you gain more insight and it allows you to decide if you want to move through the recruiting process with them.  Cover letters should explain why the person applied to your job posting and why they think they would be a good fit.  It should be tailored to your company, contain details, and provide insight into who this candidate is.  A professional resume, when done well, will give you a true idea of a candidate’s skills, education, and past experience.  Taking time to look through this information can be insightful and allow for you to further narrow down your candidate pool. 


This might appear obvious, specific skills are essential for different jobs.  Hard skills are learned and will tie into the job itself.  Examples of this might be budgeting, data analysis, or technical writing.  Soft skills are more about your personality traits, and while you are typically born with these skills, they might also be learned over time.  Examples of soft skills include communication, organization, and flexibility.  The right combination of both soft and hard skills make a balanced employee who not only is right for the job, but for the company, having the skillset to do the work necessary and be aligned with the company culture.


Education is important for any role in any company. Depending on the position that needs to be filled one’s education may be completed in a university, trade school, or through on the job training.  Everyone’s educational journey is different, but it’s important that the needs are met for specific certifications, licenses, and skills.  This information should be listed clearly for the candidate to be considered for the role.  A hiring manager will need to review and assess the information provided to make a decision.  If there is some uncertainty or unclear information human resources should follow up with the candidate to provide clarity as needed and proceed with the recruiting process accordingly.

Past Experience

Experience is a brief work history of a candidate’s skills and responsibilities they have held in their previous positions.  You are looking to see if a candidate has worked in similar environments, on similar tasks, and can meet the needs the role has.  Have they worked with the software that is standard for your company?  Have they successfully completed tasks and held responsibilities that align with those essential for this position?  You are looking to find individuals with the experience that matches your business needs.  Experience is crucial when identifying the right candidates and asking the right questions during the interview process.  

Look for Red Flags

Red flags are cause for concern and may very well prompt you to disqualify a candidate completely or at the very least reach out for clarification.  They might include long gaps in employment, an abundance of short term positions, a decline in responsibility or title, and a variety of career paths noted.  The overarching link in all of these issues is lack of consistency and stability.  If a candidate meets all other job requirements but has one of these examples listed on their resume human resources or the hiring manager may want to reach out for further discussion and clarify reasoning behind the red flag.  Information is key when making hiring decisions and really understanding who your candidates are.

Initiate a Phone Interview

Now that you have completed the resume review and decided who you’d like to move to the next step in the recruitment process it’s time to initiate a phone interview.  What this interview looks like is dependent on the role and the company.  We recommend the first phone interview be a brief conversation where you get clarification on any questions you may have based on your resume review, confirm salary expectations, and that the individual is still interested in the position.  However, some companies have more information they are looking to gain from the phone interview and have a standard set of questions developed they go through.  Either way this is your opportunity to speak with a job candidate and get a further understanding if they meet the company’s needs.  

How Red Clover Can Help

The basics of how a company can best handle resume review have been listed however the recruiting and hiring process does not end there.  Every company should have a method and system that fits their needs and provides a consistent process as it goes to market to find talent.  If your organization doesn’t have a standard recruiting process, Red Clover can work with you to develop one that meets yours business needs.

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